If you’re an introvert and you’ve chosen the homeschooling life, you may struggle at times with the social component of homeschool. Read on as I share some valuable lessons that have gotten me through years of homeschooling as an introvert myself!
Years ago, I wondered if an introverted mom could homeschool her family. Introverts are people who gain energy from inward activities or small groups. As an introvert, I knew what it meant to be easily drained and overwhelmed in louder, chaotic environments. I dismissed homeschool for the families that thrived on outside activities and hectic schedules. The moms who easily maneuvered through this lifestyle seemed to be super moms of the universe.
After sending my twins to public school, we went through several trials that forced me to consider this option. It wasn’t going to be easy, but with encouragement from friends, I knew it would be worth it. Looking back now, I realize there is so much I could offer them that they couldn’t get at a public school. My kids would have the benefit of learning one-on-one with me while pursuing their own talents and interests. In a classroom of 30 kids and one teacher, this type of learning outcome is impossible.
When I asked myself whether an introvert mom could homeschool her kids, I thought about what kind of strengths I possessed as an introvert. What am I good at? What can I give my kids that would be better than they could get from someone else? Looking deep within me, I found there are many strengths introverts have that are ideal for a homeschool environment.
It is possible for an introverted mom to homeschool her children. Homeschooling has to do with using your God-given talents other than trying to fit into any mold. It is about understanding what makes an introvert unique and using those assets to provide your children with an education they would not be able to get anywhere else.
Homeschooling Is Not Easy, Period.
It doesn’t come easily, but it doesn’t come easily to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are introverted or extroverted or somewhere in between. Homeschooling is not easy. It’s as plain and simple as that.
It is hard at times. It is wonderful at times. It is the most challenging thing I have ever done. And every year it doesn’t seem to get easier, but harder as the lessons we tackle become harder and more complex. I’m looking at you, math curriculum.
New homeschooling moms will often make several mistakes in the beginning. Most of us usually have to the learn the hard way despite the warnings of experienced moms. We set up a school room space. We create a rigid schedule complete with a lunch break and recess. We have all our curriculum organized without any room for change or breaks. We expect our children to do their assignments exactly like it is written in the teacher’s guide. We may even stand up at a whiteboard and lecture. We make sure our children have the complete school experience. Then, one day, everyone realizes this is not enjoyable. The kids are bored, and mom is burned out. Everyone is frustrated.
If the homeschool experience is not enjoyable, an introverted mom may decide to send her children back to school. She will simply think she is not capable of educating her own children or that she doesn’t have enough energy in herself to meet the demands.
However, when we take the constraints of the public school mindset off our home environment, we will start to see a more relaxed and freer way to learn. Relaxed children are happier children. Happier children engage in what they are learning. Everyone can enjoy the learning process.
You are a Guide Not a Teacher
It is essential for introverted homeschooling moms to change their mindset about what it means to learn. I abandoned the name “teacher” and began to think of myself as a “guide”. Teachers stand in front of a classroom and dispense their knowledge toward a large group of students. Guides stand shoulder to shoulder with the student, guiding her through an educational journey.
A guide helps direct a child’s interests and talents, utilizing her strengths and challenging her to build skills. Guides know there are essential elements to learning that will help their young charges to be successful and work together to discover those. Of course, guides will share their knowledge, encouraging them to learn more as they grow, and help them to think critically with new information. The idea here is that a guide is going to help the child learn how to think for herself, so as she grows she can seek out knowledge on her own and apply it to the world around her.
What does it mean to learn? Learning is not about sitting in a classroom or finishing a workbook. Most people, if they considered what they know very well, will probably realize that most of what they know about a topic has come from experience or self-study. Even for those who have a college degree will often cite that it wasn’t until they entered the workforce, did they truly understand their career field.
We cannot expect our children to know how to self-learn, especially our younger children. Even a middle-school aged child is going to be hard pressed to truly understand what it means to learn independently. That is where the guide comes in – walking with the young homeschooler, helping her to set out on her own individual learning path. No one’s individual learning path should look like anyone else’s learning path. Hence, the word “individual”.
The Creative Journey
I think of this process as the “creative journey”. Taking a creative approach, a path of knowledge and growth potential is laid before them that is unlike anything that could be replicated for anyone anywhere else. Homeschooling offers a unique advantage of providing our children with an interest-based, individualized education. There is no other type of education in the universe that can mimic what a homeschooling family can do. None! Parents know their children best and do not need a teaching degree to teach their children. Each parent has already majored in the one thing in life that will help with homeschooling. They have majored in their kids. They know their children better than anyone else in the world.
Yes, there is the subject of curriculum and what should we study from year to year, how do I help my struggling learner and how do I create a homeschool schedule that doesn’t make me want to pull my hair out. Trust me, I am going to get to all of that. For right now, let me assure you, introverted moms, that you can homeschool your children. Introverted, extroverted, it can be done.
Strengths of Introverts
Applying the concepts above, here are some basic strengths that introverts possess that make them ideal for homeschooling their children.
Introverts work best in one-on-one or small group settings. An introvert’s energy is drained in large group environments, but in a smaller setting, their energy levels may be replenished. Many families opt to work on certain subjects in a group such as bible, history, and science while other subjects like English and math may best be done individually. However, there is no rule to how homeschool should look each day. Planning is best done based on family needs especially when it comes to family size, children’s ages, and who needs more help.
Introverts notice things about others and their environment. With a reputation for being quiet, introverts can sometimes be perceived as detached from their environment, but that is simply untrue. Introverts are good listeners and observant of others and what is going on around them. With this super power, homeschool moms can observe their children in action, uncovering knowledge of how their young charges work best and identify strengths and weaknesses. This information is the basis for the guide’s (a.k.a. homeschooler’s) ability to maneuver their family through the necessary pathways of required learning utilizing the special talents each child possesses.
Introverts make good leaders. Since introverts are observant of others, they are also known for making strong leaders. Our culture tends to think of leaders as being loud, outgoing, and acting “in charge” by directing others to do what the leader thinks is best. Introverted leaders tend to not act like this, instead learning about the individual’s strengths and championing them to take on tasks that will advance the entire organization. The same method can be used in the homeschool setting. Introverted moms of larger families can utilize the special skills and talents of each child to help create a cohesive daily schedule where everyone pitches in to help with daily assignments, household chores, and errands. This takes the burden of mom having to be “everything” away, making it more manageable for her while providing opportunities for the children to shine individually.
Introverts need to use their energy wisely. How can this be a benefit for homeschooling? Carefully planning which activities to participate in outside of homeschool versus signing up for everything under the sun means that families will use their time more wisely. Busyness does not always equate to a positive experience for any kind of temperament, but for an introvert it can be unsustainable to lead a hectic schedule day after day. You should find activities that bring the most enjoyment to the entire family and ensures everyone’s social tank is filled. This allows all, introverted mom and children, the chance for quiet time at home when needed and helps everyone to keep to things that matter.
Introverted parents can make introverted kids. If any of your children are introverted, a custom homeschool schedule suited for them is a great way to provide them the downtime needed while still challenging them to focus on their studies. In addition, introverts can stay on task for longer periods of time. This makes it easier for the guide to work with each charge individually for as long as needed.
Introverts should not assume that homeschooling is only for the highly extroverted. By understanding the traits associated with introversion, moms can home educate their children in a way that meets the needs of everyone in the entire family.
If you’re an introvert and are homeschooling, how have you overcome your struggles?